Saturday 3 March 2018

Scotland By Rail - Haymarket to Craiglockhart Woods & Hill

Wherever I go I try to work walks into my plans. If I have a meeting or I'm running a workshop or I'm delivering a painting or I'm visiting a friend, I look at the Ordnance Survey to see what green spaces I can find. Nature spots are everywhere and it's so satisfying discovering them, so much nicer walking through and along them than rather than sticking to the most obvious main-road routes.

Each month through autumn, winter, spring, the RSPB Edinburgh Local Group puts on an evening talk at Napier University's Craiglockhart campus, two and a half miles from Haymarket station. From Haymarket I could get the bus, taking half an hour, costing £1.60. Not bad but I prefer to leave home at least an hour earlier and walk from the station instead. I've gradually honed my walking route to maximise nature and minimise road, I use canal and residential streets and nature reserve with woodland, hill, pond. A really interesting varied walk.

The Route:

- exit Haymarket station
- walk briefly along Dalry Road
- up Dalry Place (Where I lived my first two years. Admire the gardens of the colony houses.)
- turn right along Morrison Crescent, cross the busy Western Approach Road (there's a crossing.)
- cross Fountainbridge and walk up Gilmore Park (where the new Edinburgh Printmakers Workshop will be)
- turn right onto Union Canal at Leamington Lift Bridge, keep on the towpath for more than a mile
- exit canal where North Meggetland Road crosses the canal by bridge
- turn right onto Colinton Road
- turn left onto Lockharton Gardens which soon becomes Lockharton Crescent
- on your left pass through a small gate into the trees. This is Craiglockhart Woods and Hill, a Local Nature Reserve (LNR)

Craiglockhart Woods and Hill, Local Nature Reserve

As you enter the woods turn right and follow paths through the trees. Soon you come to a small patch of marsh and then Craiglockhart pond. Look on the pond for swan, moorhen, coot, mallard, tufted duck and - when I did the walk the other week - a water rail padding silently through the reeds. This was 21st February, a pair of swans were already a good way through building a nest. A third, younger, swan seemed almost to be helping them.

nest building on Craiglockhart pond

Spot the water rail. Well, just about. Water rail tail anyway. Just about.

From the pond make your own explorations, there are various footpaths to follow. I usually take a steep path up to a high point looking over city to the west and golf course to the east. I spend some time sitting and watching up there then follow a path downhill towards the university. From my high point further footpaths will take you all the way up and around Easter Craiglockhart Hill, if you wish.

To get to Napier Craiglockhart campus follow the pond-level footpath south until it emerges onto Glenlockhart Road. Ahead you'll see the uni and its spaceship lecture theatre. Alternatively continue your walk by taking the footpath/track immediately east of the uni buildings. This leads up onto more golf course from where you can explore Wester Craiglockhart Hill. Jackdaws nest on the cliffs under landslip-prevention wire and further along there are lots of wild raspberries in summer.


Come to my Edinburgh talk - 20th March 2018, Craiglockhart campus, Napier Uni

RSPB Edinburgh Local Group puts on lots of talks and walks. Details by clicking here

My talk:

Title: Landscapes & Birds of Scotland - An Artist's View

Time: arrive 7pm - 7.30pm, talk starts at 7.30 pm

Price: members £2, non-members £3, under 16s free (includes refreshments)


How to get there

Haymarket is the station immediately before Waverley as your train arrives into Edinburgh.

Timetables and 'Buy Tickets' options on ScotRail website.

Many thanks to ScotRail for enabling my Scotland by Rail work.